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Chicago-area opponents ask regulators to delay decision on CP-KCS merger

By | October 5, 2022

Politicians seek new study on merger’s impact in region

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Freight train with black locomotive passes commuter rail station
Freight train with black locomotive passes commuter rail station
A Canadian Pacific freight with Norfolk Southern and BNSF passes the Hanover Park station on Metra’s Milwaukee District-West line on June 24, 2022. Opponents of the CP-KCS merger want the STB to further study impacts on the Chicago area. David Lassen

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. — Illinois politicians and members of the suburban group opposed to the Canadian Pacific-Kansas City Southern merger are calling on the Surface Transportation Board to delay its decision on the merger until it can conduct a separate study on the impact in the Chicago area.

In a Tuesday press conference, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), and officials from the suburbs that make up the Coalition to Stop CPKC repeated concerns about the traffic and safety impacts that may come from increased freight traffic on the line CP shares with Metra’s Milwaukee District-West commuter operation. They have previously aired those concerns at a hearing in Itasca, Ill. [see “Chicago suburbs focus on safety …”, Trains News Wire, Sept. 13, 2022] and last week during the first day of the STB’s hearings on the merger [see “CP and KCS tout and defend their merger …,” News Wire, Sept. 28, 2022]

But the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Durbin said Tuesday the merger opponents “don’t believe [board members] have all the information they need, and they’ve got to take a look at the Chicagoland area and the economic and environmental impact of this merger.”

WFLD-TV reports Durbin said the group wants to see “a statement which … measures the impact on lives in this area. And we’re not really saying that it’s impossible to do this merger. It could be that building some rail facilities west of the metropolitan area will solve the problems.”

The suburban group has challenged the draft environmental impact statement from the STB’s Office of Environmental Analysis, which found that other than some noise issues, the impact of the merger will generally be “negligible, minor, and/or temporary” [see “STB draft review finds little environmental impact,” News Wire, Aug. 5, 2022].

The STB is set to conclude six days of hearings on the merger on Thursday.

22 thoughts on “Chicago-area opponents ask regulators to delay decision on CP-KCS merger

  1. Someone should tell all those nimby suburbs that if they didn’t like trains, they shouldn’t have bought a house by the railroad tracks. 🤦‍♂️

    1. Someone should tell all these nimby suburbs that plenty of people must like trains, given the growth and the livability of numerous Chicago suburbs along heavy freight and passenger lines.

  2. And the above dialog should also include the fact that there were once a LOT more trains on those tracks before many of the nimbys themselves were even born.

      1. David, I lived in Hanover Park and the surrounding area for well over 50 years before moving down south and I can attest the traffic on the Milwaukee District line was twice what it is now back in the early 80’s and then a slow dwindle to what it is today, though back then freights were much shorter in length and the ones that go through there now are short. A previous article here someone did have the numbers posted in response to the article with Mon-Fri and lesser traffic on weekends back then. Hell even on my wedding day (1987) there were three freights in a row that almost made me late to the church trying to cross the tracks on Rodenburg Road, I did enjoy the parade though.

  3. I one thousand percent agree with all of the above. Some of those Chicago suburbs along different rail lines are some of the most expensive in the Chicago area and have been for years.

  4. “[T]he merger opponents “don’t believe [STB board members] have all the information they need…” Translation: We know better than you and you need to see it our way. The Board just loves statements like that.

    1. Daniel – Especially when the Board Chair Martin Oberman is a former Chicago alderman, and former board chair of Metra. Something tells me he is already well aware of info or knows where to find it.

  5. The key here is to figure out what the real endgame is. Sen. Durbin knows better. I’m wondering if he is simply posturing and positioning for something like CREATE 2 – The Sequel? We are now almost 20 years along into the first version of CREATE and still only about 60 percent of the original list of projects are complete. The arguments the politicians make are valid for most the Chicago Region not just this one case. The STB has the option to approve mergers but with periodic oversight reviews and Durbin as a lawyer should know that.

    1. “Sen. Durbin knows better.” I deeply and sincerely want to believe that is true. But after so much of what has been said thus far has been so far beyond the pale it makes one question what grasp, if any, on reality any elected official has anymore.

  6. The impact of rail traffic on automobile traffic is another important topic to local communities. The ICC studied this issue and produced a report in 2002 titled Motorist Delay at Public Highway – Rail Grade Crossings in Northeastern Illinois (view 2011 Update). The ICC concluded that “Grade crossing delays are concentrated at a relatively few locations …69 percent of the region’s grade crossings delay 100 or fewer vehicles on a typical weekday…(while there are)…139 locations where there are at least 1,000 vehicles delayed each day, or motorists experience 21 hours or more of total delay per weekday.” (page 2). (From the website of the Chicago Metroplitan Agency for Planning.)

    Bensenville was ranked 6th on the list for total motorist delays right behind my hometown of Downers Grove. Schaumburg, Itasca and Elgin are NOT even ranked in the Top 20 for total delay hours today. To Sen. Durbin and the rest of these blowhard politicians I say, you are entitled to your own opinions but NOT your own facts.

  7. Going back to the original 2002 ICC Study which is the most detailed one available, Elgin was ranked #30 for total daily hours of motorist delay, at the bottom of the list right behind Westmont. If one takes a very aggressive assumption of a 50 percent increase in daily delay hours, then Elgin jumps to #21 right behind Northbrook and Maywood.

    By line segment the Metra-Milwaukee Wesst Line was ranked #11, about average for the Chicago Region. If you increased the number of total trains on this route by 50 percent this route goes up to #6, right behind the UPRR/ex-CEI main line in the south suburbs, and just ahead of the IHBRR Calment Park to Blue Island.

    1. IMO the STB will approve maybe no conditions or several. However the courts will be full o lawsuits. Courts will probably combine all under one court most likely Federal.

    2. Simple solution…stop driving everywhere and take Metra when you can…there, solved the problem of all the alleged back ups at grade crossings.

      1. With all due respect Gerald, not quite…If you examine the grade crossing daily delays in the Chicago Region you will find that Metra shares equal responsibility with freight trains. Downers Grove Main Street and La Grange Road (LaGrange) are both located immediately adjacent to Metra stations. At these locations it is Metra causing the problem most of the time NOT freight trains.

      2. Metra’s lines are oriented towards travel between the Loop in Chicago and its suburbs. Most of the traffic in the suburbs is within the suburbs and between suburbs. Telling people they should stop driving and ride Metra is not good advice.

  8. Re: Grade crossing delayss. CP Rail main west of Milwaukee goes through the City and the Town of Brookfield, and the Village of Elm Grove, mostly at grade. (The westbound, only, railroad track, is grade separated at North Avenue.) You just about need a surveyor to know which of the three munis you’re in. For example, many of my condo neighbors here in the Town don’t know that the City is yards away from their bedroom.

    Of the three munis, only the City of Brookfield, the largest by population and area, has more than one fire station. The City has two south of the tracks and one north of the tracks.

    I got to talking to a City of Brookfield firefighter at the supermarket. I asked him who covers the Town of Brookfield north of the tracks, as the Town’s only fire house is south of the tracks. He told me the City gets those calls (from Waukesha County 911) although they’re in the Town.

    Chicago suburbs are remarkably balkanized. If they haven’t done so already, they need to consolidate dispatch so that emergency response vehicles cannot be stopped by trains, whether slowly moving trains, or stalled or derailed trains. Most likely this has already been effectuated, but I don’t know that.

    1. That whole area around Hanover Park is also covered by Schaumburg, Streamwood, Bartlett, Hoffman Estates, Roselle, Hanover Park etc. Fire Departments with mutual response and dispatch. The STB I don’t believe will be fooled by some of the claims that the towns are speaking of. Especially Roselle, Hanover Park, Bartlett down the line including Elgin to the city have Fire Stations on both sides of the tracks. Schaumburg has such a minor presence by the tracks not sure why their even part of this.

  9. Build facilities west of the city?

    Laughable!

    With that, then instead of wasting their precious minutes at a grade crossing once a week, they can spend it stuck in traffic every day choking on diesel fumes.

    An *environmental* impact would measure total carbon footprint of moving the freight, not NIMBY inconvenience.

    The previous poster is probably right about Durbin — a grand bargain to advance CREATE would be a regional win

  10. Maybe somewhat off-topic but I have to wonder if Sen. Durbin knows that Metra owns the Milw West Line/CP Elgin Sub and btw also the Milw North/CP C&M Sub to Rondout and the Fox Lake Sub. And Metra is responsible for all main track engineering functions. But CP has dispatching rights. So a foreign national freight railroad controls train movements on an American taxpayer funded and owned passenger railroad. This situation doesn’t exist anywhere’s else in the American commuter/regional rail industry. Hey Dicky, you see anything a little troubling with that? How about fixing that first.

  11. “But the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Durban said Tuesday the merger opponents “don’t believe [board members] have all the information they need, and they’ve got to take a look at the Chicagoland area and the economic and environmental impact of this merger.””

    Translation: We need to gin up some more political opposition outside of our local interests.

    When some one feels like they don’t have a compelling argument, they simply go try and locate more power to offset the one the decision makers have. Textbook politics.

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